Don Ed Hardy: 2000 Dragons + 12
In the summer of 2012, DiverseWorks presented west-coast artist Don Ed Hardy’s 2000 Dragons, along with a brand new series of dragon paintings which have never before been exhibited together. 2000 Dragons is a 500 foot-long scroll painting of 2000 dragons, created in the year 2000 to commemorate not only what was The Year of the Dragon in the Asian zodiac system, but the dawning of a new millennium. The new series of consists of twelve dragon paintings, one for each month of 2012, the first Year of the Dragon since 2000.
2000 Dragons (4 x 500 feet) is an expanded and updated version of the venerable Asian tradition of dragon painting and is specifically inspired by the Southern Sung dynasty (mid-13th century) dragon painter Ch’en Jung, whose most famous work, the Nine Dragon Scroll, is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The Asian dragon is a composite symbol of all the powerful and beneficial forces of nature, and is particularly related to water from the skies, oceans, and rivers. It is the primary embodiment of the notion of cyclical renewal and life force. The new dragon paintings, each 4 x 3 feet (the same height as the scroll) are Sumi ink and acrylic on Tyvek, and will be presented together for the first time.
Concurrent with the exhibition at DiverseWorks, the Art Guys presented additional works by Hardy at their studio, open to the public by appointment.
The concept for 2000 Dragons first occurred to Hardy in 1976, another dragon year (the Asian zodiac is a 12-year cycle). The painting was executed during the first seven months of 2000 in acrylic on a support of synthetic Tyvek – a light, strong and archival material. The images range from one-inch hieroglyphic marks based on ancient Chinese bronze dragon forms, to 30-foot-long creatures undulating among explosive clouds, waves, and rain forms. Brush work moves from explosive gestures to meticulous detail. Emulating classic Chinese and Japanese picture scrolls, the painting presents a journey that progresses through periods of time and weather changes. Hardy painted the piece in five-foot sections continuously until completed; only five feet of the working surface was visible at a time, and it was painted spontaneously, with no preparatory drawing.
2000 Dragons was first shown in its entirety at Track 16 Gallery in Santa Monica, CA in 2000, and has since been exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver; the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco; and the Linekona Center for the Arts in Honolulu.
About Don Ed Hardy
A Southern California native born in 1945, Hardy revived a childhood determination to become a tattoo artist and underwent a tattoo apprenticeship while simultaneously receiving a BFA degree in printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in 1967. Tattooing professionally since then, he developed the fine art potential of the medium with emphasis on its Asian heritage. In 1973 he lived in Japan, studying with a traditional tattoo master – the first non-Asian to gain access to that world. He resumed these studies in Japan throughout the 1980s.
In 1982 Hardy and his wife, Francesca Passalacqua, formed Hardy Marks Publications and have written, edited and published more than twenty-five books on alternative art. They moved their primary household to Honolulu in 1986, where Hardy resumed painting, drawing, and printmaking. He maintains the studio Tattoo City in San Francisco, with younger artists continuing to evolve and carry on his unique practice. Hardy’s current focus is on creating and exhibiting works in more traditional media, including porcelain painting.
Hardy has had solo exhibitions at many galleries and institutions, including Track 16 Gallery, Santa Monica, CA (1997, 1999, 2000, 2003, and 2008); Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, Boulder, CO (1998); and Instituto de Artes Graficas, Oaxaca, Mexico (2005). Since the 1970’s, his work has been included in numerous group exhibitions, including Tatoo! at the Museum of American Folk Art, New York (1971); In Celebration of Ourselves at The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1975); The Return of the Cadavre Exquis at The Drawing Center, New York (1993); and Shark’s Ink at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver (2009). In 2004 “Ed Hardy,” a major fashion line featuring his artwork, was launched internationally. Hardy and his wife now divide their time between Honolulu and the San Francisco Bay area.